Two deadly enemies, Georg Znaeym and Ulrich von Gradwitz, are out in the woodland for two different reasons: Znaeym continues to poach on the disputed land, and von Gradwitz hunts Znaeym and the other "prowling thieves" in the hope of discovering the trespassers.
Knowing that the roe deer are exposed as they run from the approaching storm, von Gradwitz, the inheritor of a quarrel over "a narrow strip of precipitous woodland" harbors a deep hatred for "the tireless game snatcher and raider" on this long-disputed territory. Therefore, he gathers his foresters and they set out to patrol this jealously held strip of woods. So zealously does von Gradwitz guard this land that he disregards the threats of the weather, and in his efforts to catch his enemy on his land, he does not heed the high winds.
If only on this wild night, in this dark, lone spot, he might come across Georg Znaeym, man to man, with none to witness—that was the wish that was uppermost in his thoughts.
Giving no heed to anything but his intense hatred for his foe, Ulrich steps around the trunk of a huge tree and suddenly comes vis-à-vis with his enemy. At that instant, both the foes have their fates altered forever.